Brooklyn DA Creates Hate Crimes Unit

The Brooklyn district attorney has created a hate crimes unit to deal with a rise in reported racially and religiously motivated attacks across the borough.

The Wall Street Journal says the unit will initially have five prosecutors.

It will be led by Marc Fliedner, District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s civil rights bureau chief.

The prosecutors will have access to tools more commonly used in organized crime investigations. But Fliedner declined to detail what tools would be available to the unit.

According to the NYPD, Brooklyn had 95 reported hate crimes from Jan. 1 to Sept. 14. That’s a 30 percent rise compared to the same period in 2013.
From 2008 to 2012, Brooklyn had the highest number of reported hate crimes, following by Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island.

NYPD Aviation Unit Takes Down Laser, Drone Users

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Two New York City men have been arrested and charged with felonies for interfering with the actions of NYPD helicopters conducting critical searches in separate incidents recently.

The episodes, one week apart, include a Brooklyn man flying an unmanned aerial vehicle – commonly known as a drone – to within 50 feet of a police helicopter operating at an altitude of about 800 feet, and a Queens man who deliberately shone a high-powered laser beam into the eyes of an NYPD pilot maneuvering about 750 feet in the air.

“I put the helicopter in hover and all of a sudden I see, out of the corner of my eye, a bright green light that illuminated the cockpit,” Police Officer Tarek Otero, the pilot in command, said Tuesday.

At the time of the incident, on September 24 at about 9:30 p.m., Otero and his co-pilot, Police Officer Michael Porcheddu, were methodically combing the 107th Precinct for an assault suspect.

As Otero instinctively turned his head to the right to investigate the green light, the beam’s painful flash caused him to pull off his night-vision goggles and ask Porcheddu to radio patrol units on the ground.

“I told my partner: ‘We’ve just been lasered. I’ve got sight of him and we’re going to go after him’,” Otero said.
In the rear yard of a school located at 162nd Street and 86th Avenue in Queens, the pilots pinpointed a woman, a small child with a white dog, and a “very large” man.

Otero, who has 22 years with the NYPD – eight years with the Aviation Unit – broadcast descriptions over the police radio and directed responding cops from the 107th Precinct Anti-Crime Unit to the exact location.
“I said: ‘I have a visual on a possible perp that just lasered us,’” Otero said. “‘They are directly under us in the street. Stop that big guy right there.’”
Arrested in the street was 26-year-old Daniel Parris, who lives one block from the school. A six-inch-long laser device was recovered from his pocket.
Parris was charged with Reckless Endangerment, Menacing, and Obstructing Governmental Administration. He was released on bail and is next due in court on October 8. He has one prior arrest, for a 2007 robbery in Queens.

While the NYPD pilots escaped serious injury from the ultra-bright beam that remained trained on them even as they moved closer to the source, other aviators across the country have reported temporary, and even permanent, blindness – causing danger to the crew and to people and property on the ground.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been keeping track of laser incidents since 2005; in 2010, alone, nearly 3,000 such incidents were reported nationwide. Offenders can be charged with a federal crime and face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The FAA can also impose a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation.

As for small drone use, the FAA has not yet announced proposed rules, but has said it plans to do so by the end of this year.

Just after midnight on September 17, NYPD pilots above Greene Avenue in Brooklyn were searching nearby rooftops and courtyards for a reported missing person when they came across a small white drone hovering nearby.

Using night vision goggles, the officers watched as it climbed and moved closer to their helicopter. Police were forced to call off their search in order to avoid a collision, but tracked the device until it landed behind 290 Central Avenue, its operator’s home.
As the pilots illuminated the area with the aircraft’s Nitesun searchlight, they radioed for 83rd Precinct cops to respond. Police recovered a DJI Phantom II remote-controlled drone equipped with a GoPro Hero camera.
Isaac Rosa, 34, was charged with Reckless Endangerment, Obstructing Governmental Administration, and several additional U.S. Code violations. At arraignment he was held on bail and is next due in court on November 13.

He has one prior arrest, for larceny and possession of stolen property in Manhattan in 2002.

Otero, the NYPD pilot struck with the laser beam, has also seen personal drones occupying New York’s airspace.
On Tuesday, in fact, he had just returned to the Aviation Unit base in Brooklyn after conducting an unsuccessful search for a drone reportedly flying some 4,000 feet high near the Verrazano Bridge.
“There are lots more of these coming,” he said. “It’s extremely dangerous for everyone.”

Brooklyn Man Indicted For Posing As Police Officer, Pulling Over Driver And Threatening To Shoot Him

Kings County District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson today announced that a 20-year-old Brooklyn man has been indicted on charges including impersonating a police officer and menacing for threatening to kill a driver he had pulled over in a phony “traffic stop” in Crown Heights.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant allegedly posed as a police officer and not only terrorized an innocent man, he eroded the public trust in our real police, who face danger while keeping us all safe every day.”

The defendant, Maurice Joiner, 20, of 1519 Lincoln Place in Crown Heights, will be arraigned at a later date in Brooklyn Supreme Court on charges of first-degree criminal impersonation, second-degree criminal impersonation, second-degree menacing, second-degree harassment, possession of an imitation pistol, and possession of mace. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

District Attorney Thompson said that, according to the investigation, on September 5, 2014, at about 7:40 p.m., a 30-year-old Brooklyn man driving a van with a female passenger in the vicinity of Utica Avenue and Lincoln Place made a U-turn and cut off Joiner’s vehicle, and the two drivers exchanged words.

According to the investigation, Joiner pulled behind the van and put flashing red and blue lights similar to police emergency lights on the dashboard of his own vehicle, a Lincoln Aviator, resulting in the driver of the van pulling over. Joiner allegedly exited his vehicle and approached the van, cursing. The van driver became nervous and drove away. Joiner then got back in his vehicle and pulled alongside the van, displayed what appeared to be a pistol and a police shield and allegedly told the driver he was going to “blow his head off.”

District Attorney Thompson said that according to the investigation, the van passenger took down Joiner’s license plate number and called 911. Police officers from the 77th Precinct pulled Joiner over and found an air pistol, handcuffs, the blue and red light, a gold metal security officer shield, a bulletproof vest and mace.

Hikind Defends Jewish Community’s Right To Use Chickens As Kaporos

Assemblyman Hikind (D-Brooklyn) called recent attacks on the community’s right to use chickens as kaporos “an attack on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” which prohibits interfering with the free exercise of religion.

The Assemblyman’s comments came in response to the group The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, which filed an order at the Supreme Court of Kings County to enjoin Brooklyn residents from organizing, conducting or participating in the kaporos events involving chickens during the week of September 29th, 2013.

Assemblyman Hikind was contacted by a community member named on the complaint. The Assemblyman immediately sought to contact the plaintiff’s attorney, Jessica Astrof, who explained to one of his staff members that she herself was a Torah observant Jew but that she was concerned with the “ongoing and potential anti-Semitism” caused by the mistreatment of thousands of chickens shipped to Brooklyn for the annual kaporos events. The chickens, she said, are left starving for days before the kaporos and many are found dead causing a public health hazard.

“Using chickens as kaporos is a sacred and ancient tradition that observant Jews have practiced and will continue to practice,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “We have a Torah prohibition of Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim, banning cruelty to animals, and those who use chickens as kaporos are enjoined to hold to that principle. If there’s a problem—if the animals are treated cruelly—that’s a violation of our beliefs. And they are certainly of no use if they are starved and die before they can be used and properly schechted [ritually slaughtered], then donated to tzedaka [charity]. When an unfortunate incident occurs, that is certainly no reason to attack the entire practice. The vast majority of institutions and individuals perform this minhag [custom] respectfully and with an eye toward halachah [Jewish Law], which protects everyone concerned, animals included.

“In certain European countries, there are movements to ban circumcision and ritual slaughter. Fortunately, we have the Constitution protecting the religious rights of our citizens. I hope the judge today throws out this needless attack on Orthodox Judaism and Freedom of Religion.”

Assemblyman Hikind said that one of his staff members will attend today’s hearing at 2pm at the Supreme Court of Kings County.

Police Shoot Knife Wielding Suspect in Midwood

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A man wielding a knife was shot and killed by police inside a Brooklyn apartment during a dispute in which another man was fatally stabbed.

Police say officers arriving at the scene on Ocean Parkway in Midwood about 7:20 p.m. Monday saw a woman and a man holding a knife.

Police say a second man then entered the apartment and confronted the knife-wielding suspect, who was then shot by police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The second man was taken to a hospital with stab wounds and pronounced dead.

Police said earlier that a woman had been stabbed, but retracted that report. The woman is being questioned.
It was not clear how the three people in the apartment were related.
None of the officers were injured.

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Assemblywoman Brings Crossing Guard to Busy Flatbush Intersection

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Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein is proud to announce that, working closely with the New York Police Department, she successfully secured a new school crossing guard for student and pedestrian assistance at the intersection of Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue.

Recently, local parents of children not eligible for bus service from their schools who walk to school reached out, citing the intersection as one of the most dangerous in Brooklyn. Previously, the Assemblywoman’s petition for coverage at this junction was denied because the intersection is under the jurisdiction of no less than three NYPD Precincts. The Assemblywoman reached out to Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South who worked diligently to make this a reality.

“Persistence and hard work pays off,” said Joel Weisblum, Executive Director of Yeshiva Derech Hatorah, located at the intersection. “On behalf of the Yeshiva, and more importantly, the beautiful children of our Yeshiva, I would like to thank the Assemblywoman for assistance in getting us this much needed crossing guard.”

“I am extremely happy,” said local parent, Yael S. “We thank Assemblywoman Weinstein and the NYPD for all their efforts on behalf of our children. We now have peace of mind.”

The new guard is on Monday through Thursday from 7:15 to 9:15am, and in the afternoon, during school dismissals, from 2:30 to 5:00pm and Friday, when she is on duty from 10:30 to 1:30pm.

Greenfield Works With DOE to Resolve Related Service Disruptions to Yeshiva Students

After hearing from dozens of parents, Councilman David Greenfield took action and secured a commitment from NYC Department of Education to promptly resolve issues surrounding their non-public school special education and related services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and health services. Numerous parents and service providers contacted Councilman Greenfield to relay their frustrations and detail their difficulties getting services for children that were already approved by DOE. After speaking with top DOE officials, Councilman Greenfield was assured that the agency would not only act immediately to address these issues but would also ensure that any child that misses services will receive makeup sessions.

“It is really unbelievable that the Department of Education is forcing children to wait for the related services they need to succeed,” said Councilman Greenfield. “Providing these special ed and related services isn’t a choice, it is the law. I am now confident that the DOE officials who administer these services fully understand that and I take them at their word that they are doing everything in their power to make sure services are restored to our children within a matter of days and that all missed sessions are made-up.”

Unfortunately, parents of children with special needs must jump through several administrative hoops each year to get the services their children are entitled to by law. The long process begins in the winter when parents begin submitting paperwork for the next year’s services and continues throughout the summer as parents and providers struggle to get reimbursements for the previous years’ services. Over the past few years the Department of Education has made attempts to streamline the process for both parents and providers. However, these attempts have encountered numerous difficulties resulting in increased delays. This not only impacts children who don’t get services but also hundreds of providers who can’t work and as a result can’t earn an income because they have no children to service.

This year parents and providers have had to wait several weeks to receive necessary forms for services. The delays are especially problematic because each day of service is crucial to the student’s development. Providers, unable to get the necessary approvals in a timely manner, are forced to choose between beginning work with their students and risk not being reimbursed for their services or delaying work until everything has been resolved. The DOE reports that the cause of this year’s delays is computer failures which have led to massive slowdowns in processing requests for special education services. DOE has promised Councilman Greenfield that the situation is a top priority and will be resolved as soon as possible.

In 2 Boroughs, 2 Rallies Over NYPD Actions

ilovenypdHundreds have attended rallies over the actions of New York City police officers – one in protest, the other in support.

In Brooklyn, about two hundred people marched Saturday in support of a five-month pregnant woman taken to the ground by an officer last week.

Her lawyer says they’re meeting with prosecutors on Tuesday.

Resident Evelyn Garcia attended the rally to call attention to what she said was increased police brutality. Video of the altercation has sparked anger.

But on Staten Island about 700 people attended to show their support for officers from the borough who have died in the line of duty.

The Staten Island Advance reports the gathering was put together by retired officers to honor the sacrifice NYPD officers make.
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Brooklyn Battery Tunnel Closures

The Hugh L. Carey (formerly Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel will be fully closed in both directions for several hours on Sunday, September 28th, for the annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. One tube will be closed beginning tonight at 10:00 PM. The other will remain open until 8:00 AM on Sunday, 9/28, when both tubes will be fully closed until 3:00 PM for the event. Consider alternate routes and allow for additional travel time.

NYC City Council Hosts Celebration of Russian-Speaking New Yorkers in City Hall

The culture, food and contributions of Russian-speaking New Yorkers were on full display at City Hall on Monday evening at a celebration hosted by Council Member Mark Treyger, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Chaim Deutsch, David Greenfield and Karen Koslowitz and the Council’s Jewish Caucus in the City Council Chambers. Council Member Treyger was especially proud to host this event in his capacity as the first ever Russian speaking member of the New York City Council and a first generation New Yorker. Assembly Members Alec Brook-Krasny, Bill Colton and Helene Weinstein, who all represent large Russian speaking communities in southern Brooklyn, were also in attendance.

The Celebration of Russian-Speaking New Yorkers featured a reception with food from Russian restaurants from around Brooklyn and Queens and performances by the Brighton Beach Ballet. In addition, leaders from throughout New York’s Russian-speaking community were presented with Council proclamations in recognition of all of their contributions to our city, including President of the Association of Holocaust Survivors from the Former Soviet Union Boris Lerman, Gregory Davidzon of Davidzon Media, journalist Ari Kagan, Inna Stavitsky of JASA and businessman Boris Kandov. This event marked the return of this great celebration to City Hall and will hopefully become an annual event once again, especially as the city’s Russian-speaking population continues to grow in communities across the five boroughs.

“It was great to see our proud heritage being celebrated in City Hall by so many members of New York’s Russian-speaking community. It is important that we always remember where we came from, so I was extremely proud to host this celebration with my colleagues. Russian-speaking New Yorkers have added so much to our city throughout the years, and this was a great chance to honor those contributions and achievements,” said Council Member Treyger.

“I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my fellow co-hosts Council Member Mark Treyger, Council Member Karen Koslowitz, Council Member David Greenfield, and Council Member Mark Levine and the Jewish Caucus for working together to celebrate the Russian-speaking community in NYC. In particular I want to congratulate my honoree, Inna Stavitsky, a hardworking, dedicated community activist. I also extend my congratulations to the other honorees, Gregory Davidzon, Boris Lerman, and Ari Kagan,” said Council Member Deutsch.

“I am proud to represent the growing and important Russian-American community of Southern Brooklyn. My great thanks to Councilman Mark Treyger and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for hosting this important event honoring Russian speaking New Yorkers. Our honorees are truly extraordinary New Yorkers deserving of praise,” said Council Member Greenfield.

“It was a pleasure to be part of this Celebration of Russian Speaking New Yorkers. New York has been and continues to be the dream of a better tomorrow for so many Russian speaking men and women who come here with nothing BUT their dreams, in search of freedom and opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families. I’d like to thank Council Member Treyger and my colleagues for hosting this special event in honoring our city’s Russian Speaking New Yorkers,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“The Russian speaking people in my community are hardworking, entrepreneurial and above all, family oriented. They are proud of their heritage and grateful to be American. I am delighted that so many have decided to live and work in my district,” said Council Member Koslowitz.

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Local Assemblyman Asks Public School to Better Manage It’s Piles of Trash

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Assemblyman Hikind is asking Public School 160 to better manage its piles of garbage, which residents say are destroying their quality of life. The Assemblyman spoke with school Principal Margaret Russo yesterday about the situation.

Residents near P.S. 160 on 51st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway have been complaining that huge piles of garbage, resulting from the daily meals of nearly 1400 students and faculty, are left out twice each day in front of the school for sanitation to remove at night. The result is an all-day stench that has become unbearable to people living in the neighborhood. The residents say they have been complaining for a long time but nothing has been done so they turned to Hikind.

“Public schools need to work with the community,” said Hikind. “At the request of residents, I visited the neighborhood and I saw with my own eyes—and smelled with my own nose—how bad the situation is. There are trails of wet debris from leaking garbage bags that run down the street and, quite frankly, it stinks. This situation has brought vermin and is destroying the quality of life for residents in the neighborhood. This intolerable situation must be addressed.”

When garbage from P.S. 180 was causing a similar problem, Assemblyman Hikind worked with former NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to resolve the matter.

“I look forward to seeing this problem resolved so residents on 51st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway can return to the quality of life they deserve,” said Hikind.

Public Advocate Letitia James Announces Emergency Task Force to Fight Discrimination

IMG_6043.JPGToday, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James announced the creation of a taskforce to take on the rise in hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers. The taskforce, comprised of leaders from the Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths, will be aim to make short term and long-term policy recommendations to mitigate hate crimes in New York, with a focus on crimes that target the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“Our city belongs to all New Yorkers regardless of which religion they adhere to or whether they affiliate with any religion at all,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. “We stand united in supporting every community in New York and creating a climate that fosters acceptance. The Public Advocate’s Task Force on Hate Crimes will examine and advance specific action items to address the rise in hate crimes against Muslim and Jewish New Yorkers. While divisive efforts like the controversial anti-Muslim ads may seek to tear us apart, New Yorkers will rise above and come together as we always do.”

Members of the task force represent a cross-section of New York City and have worked in various capacities to foster understand among the many communities that make up the mosaic of the city.

Members include: Aisha Al-Adawiya, founder of Women in Islam; Chanina Sperlin, Executive Vice President Crown Heights Jewish Community Council; David M. Pollock, Co-Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York; Debbie Almontaser, Executive Director of the Muslim Consultative Network; Evan Bernstein, New York Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League; Jacob Itzkowitz, NYPD Clergy Liason, Williamsburg Shomrim Safety Patrol; Imam Khalid Latif, Chaplain at NYPD and NYU; Michael Schmidt, Director of New York City Chapter of the American Jewish Committee; Sapreet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition; Shahana Masum, Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group/MUNA; Susie Lozada, Community Organizing and Political Director of Unite Here 100; Victor Kovner of the Brennan Center for Justice and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

The task force will create a list of recommendations to address hate crimes affecting Jewish and Muslim communities throughout New York City.

West 11th Street and Highlawn Avenue Named “Firefighter William ‘Billy’ Tropea Way” in Honor of 9/11 Hero

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Council Member Mark Treyger was joined on Saturday morning by hundreds of Gravesend residents and FDNY members to co-name the corner of West 11th Street and Highlawn Avenue “Firefighter William ‘Billy’ Tropea Way” in honor of the longtime firefighter and 9/11 hero who passed away in 2010 from cancer contracted in the aftermath of the terror attack.

Billy was born on July 14, 1956 and was raised in Gravesend, attending P.S. 215, David A. Boody Intermediate School, John Dewey High School and Brooklyn College. He began his career as a New York City firefighter in 1987 and was honored to give back to his community in this capacity. He served the city for over 22 years at Engine 245, Ladder 161 and Battalion 43 in Coney Island as a firefighter and aide to the Battalion Chief. In addition to being a firefighter, Billy was remembered as an accomplished pianist, competitive athlete, handyman, gardener and dedicated family man, especially to his children, Samantha and Billy.

At Saturday’s ceremony, Billy’s family and friends shared stories highlighting some of the many ways he helped others, including complete strangers, without ever seeking the spotlight. The ceremony featured the FDNY color guard and FDNY Emerald Society Pipes & Drums and was attended by hundreds of Billy’s friends and neighbors and dozens of his former FDNY colleagues. Following remarks from Billy’s wife Janet, friends Chris Bruno, Robert Glynn and Lt. Michael Duran, George Frenzel of the local block association, Council Member Treyger, Senator Marty Golden and Borough President Eric Adams, the family unveiled the new sign at W. 11th Street and Highlawn Avenue designating the block “Firefighter William ‘Billy’ Tropea Way.”

“I am proud to help ensure that Billy Tropea’s life and legacy will be honored for generations to come by dedicating this street in his memory. By all accounts, Billy was a remarkable person who was committed to helping others however possible, whether as a member of the FDNY or simply as a great neighbor. It was incredibly touching to hear his family and friends share their memories and stories of Billy at Saturday’s ceremony. It was also great to see so many of Billy’s friends and nearly the entire block take the time to remember this great individual,” said Council Member Treyger.

“Co-naming W. 11th Street at Highlawn Avenue in my husband’s name was a true honor. He was a man who led his live helping others in any way he possibly could. My family, including our daughter Samantha, son-in-law Joe, grandson Joseph and son Billy are extremely proud, grateful and blessed to have had Billy in our lives. Whenever someone drives or walks past this sign, please remember to show an act of kindness that day, as Billy did every day of his life,” said Janet Tropea.

Council Member Treyger also extended his thanks to the Tropea family, the FDNY and everyone who played a role in making this co-naming happen, including West 11th Street Block Association President George Frenzel, Council Member David Greenfield and Assembly Member Bill Colton.

Alternate Side Rules Suspended Thursday and Friday, September 25-26

Alternate side parking (street cleaning) regulations will be suspended Thursday and Friday, September 25-26 for Rosh Hashanah.

All other regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

Man Stabbed During Fight Over Money

Police say a man has been stabbed in the neck in what is believed to be a dispute over money.

The incident occurred just after 1 p.m. Monday in Brooklyn Heights.

Officials say a man in his 30s was rushed to Lutheran medical Center in serious condition with a stab wound in his neck. They say a man in his 20s was arrested at the scene and a knife was recovered.

Police didn’t release the identities of the men and the nature of the dispute wasn’t immediately known.

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